I recently was "A2A" (asked to answer) a question on Quora: "Where does the Bible say Jesus is 100% man and 100% God?" I’m taking “man” to mean “human.”
The answer is, it doesn’t. At least, not directly. It does, however, say both, but in very Jewish ways and not really together like in one place. As a result, the important aspect of answering this questions is to explore both claims, which has to be done separately. Interesting note, there are a few places where these separate claims actually *are* connected.
Jesus is God.
What you’re really after here, is that Jesus is יהוה (YHWH); not just אלהים (elohim - “a god”/”gods”), but האלהים (THE Elohim), or to word it another way, the specific elohim who is also the Creator of all things, and the sustainer of life.
This can be divided into a few different categories, or I’d say, depth of understanding: Direct (being surface-level words that are translated), Indirect (being a little more involved, and may require thought), and Motif (being ideas or roles that are used and re-used, whether in translation or not that show an idea that is solely about YHWH in the Hebrew Bible being continued about Jesus in the New Testament).
1. Jesus’ own claims
In John 10, there’s a particular episode for which Jesus was nearly stoned for making this claim directly. We’ll take a look at verses 24–33. It shows what Jesus said, and also (and importantly), how those who heard it understood it.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Not only is it pretty clear in context that Jesus is claiming to be God, but it’s also pretty clear that those who heard the statement understood it to mean he was saying he is God. Look at why the Jews who had heard him and picked up stones were going to stone him … what’s their why?
Secondary note: This kind of fulfills the other aspect we’ll explore more later, the 100% man. What’s the other reason they went to stone him? While claiming to be God, it seemed obvious to them that he couldn’t be, because he was human.
This is probably the cleanest passage where there’s overlap, so I put it first.
In John 12, Jesus claims that to see him (Jesus) is to see the one who sent him.
And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
… who did Jesus say sent him? God. See John 3:16–17:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 14 echoes this:
If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
2. The claims of others, like Paul.
In Colossians 1:13–17, the Apostle Paul called Jesus the Creator (verse 3 helps you know who Paul is referring to when he says Son):
He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
For more on this, read Genesis 1:1–3 and then all of John 1:1–14. Put them side by side if you have to. That should help make it pretty straightforward.
Then in Colossians 2:9, Paul wrote again:
For in him [Jesus] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
The word in the original Greek is θεότητος (theotetos) - an abstract noun equivalent to “deity,” meaning the state or condition of being God. Paul says the whole fullness of that dwells bodily in Jesus, who is the head (think of a river, so, the source) of all rule and authority.
Of course there are more, these are to serve as examples. There are others from Luke, Matthew, Peter, etc.
1. Name / Role Replacement, where an old-testament passage is quoted about YHWH, explicitly using the divine name, but the name of Jesus is placed in the “YHWH” spot instead.
This happens in a number of places, but I’ll provide three examples:
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
In the Hebrew: Prepare the way of יהוה, YHWH.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
It doesn’t say “Jesus” explicitly, but look at who arrives - and what John says about him. I’ll pick up verses 13–14:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
John’s role is to “prepare the way for YHWH” … and Jesus is the one that shows up. John even specifies in John 1:29–31:
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
So John’s saying he’s supposed to “prepare the way for YHWH” which is Jesus being revealed to Israel.
Okay, let’s do another one …
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
The original Hebrew behind the English LORD here is יהוה, the divine name, YHWH.
Look how Paul uses this in Romans 10:9–13:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Paul seems to essentially say “YHWH, the God of the Jews is the Jesus we worship - they are the same.”
If you would ask Paul or John … or Matthew … or John the Baptist … “But I thought that scripture was about YHWH,” I think they’d go … “that’s what I said … Jesus. Weren’t you paying attention?”
2. The use of the Greek word for “Lord” to describe a) YHWH in the Hebrew Bible and b) Jesus in the New Testament.
I often think English-speakers just wish the New Testament authors would just come-out and directly say Jesus is the Creator-God, YHWH. But, I actually think the New Testament authors are trying to say that when they say Jesus is Lord. There are a few important reasons I believe this.
First of all, in the Septuagint (also known as the LXX - Roman Numerals for 70), the divine name יהוה (YHWH) is recorded Κύριος (kyrios), the Greek word for Lord.
Example: When YHWH declares His name before Moses in Exodus 34:6, in Hebrew and its transliteration then Greek and its transliteration:
I’m sure you see it - they “protected” the Tetragrammaton, the divine name, by saying “Kyrios” (“LORD”) instead of transliterating YHWH or otherwise pronouncing the divine name. This was already very common practice in the second temple period, so the New Testament authors continued this when referring to YHWH … and in other places, such as when making the statement we already explored in Romans 10:9–13, where the original Hebrew Bible reference to “calling on the name of the Lord” was literally “calling on the name of YHWH”:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name ofthe Lord will be saved.”
There are tons more, I’m just running out of time and space on this Quora answer!
Okay this is my favorite section, because it’s the deepest.
1. YHWH, the cloud-rider. The Cloud-riding God.
This could easily be my largest section, and I can’t make it that for space and time reasons. But suffice it to say the Hebrew word for cloud is ענן`anan. It appears 87 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. Always always always, when involving a being, referring to something YHWH is doing or about YHWH’s presence. Except once. Let me give you some examples:
As I mentioned, there are about 65ish or so more that directly tie some activity of YHWH with clouds. A few just describe what Job sees, or rain etc.
Except Daniel 7: Let’s do verse 9:
As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
Thrones. Plural. Ancient of Days just means “eternal one” - a way to describe the Creator. One of the thrones is occupied by the eternal one, YHWH!
Let’s pick up verse 13:
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
So the Son of Man figure will also be a cloud-rider! That’s incredible! In fact, this is the ONLY place in the whole Bible where anyone other than explicitly YHWH rides clouds. This, combined with the multiple thrones in God’s space in Daniel’s vision, spawned pre-Jesus Judaism to believe the one God consisted of multiple persons, a main part of YHWH and a little part of YHWH, called “little yhwh” in some ancient Hebrew literature. Incredibly, this means there’s space for a multi-faceted YHWH even before Jesus!
Anyway … do you happen to know Jesus’ favorite title for himself? “Son of Man” The phrase occurs 86 times in 82 verses in the New Testament. Every one of them referring to Jesus.
So how do we know Jesus was referencing this “Son of Man” when He used that term? I think Mark 14:61–62 makes that pretty clear:
“Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’Jesus said, ‘I Am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ ”
… which is exactly what Daniel 7 says of the son of man in the vision: clouds of heaven. Jesus is specifically saying he would be the cloud-riding Son of Man.
Now I want to underscore something. Being the Messiah was not blasphemous. But declaring yourself to be God… the High Priest thought that must be condemned:
Mark 14:63 “The high priest tore his clothes.” (which was a sin, by the way, for the High Priest to tear is clothes - see Leviticus 21:10, and disqualified him from being the High Priest) “‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned him as worthy of death.”
My point is: the High Priest declared blasphemy on the understanding that Christ claimed that He is God when He said “Son of Man” - a person from the prophecy of Daniel who is worthy of God’s glory, an eternal kingdom, and special service from all peoples, languages, and nations that is due only to God alone.
It’s for that reason that He was crucified!
2. YHWH is everlasting. Jesus is everlasting.
3. People begin praying TO Jesus.
Other places: Acts 9:5, 10–15
Jesus even said you could ask him:
… There are few more things. Proving the divinity of the Son of Man character and Jesus’ claims about it in the New Testament is actually rather simple, as you can see. There are a few places in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament where this is also clearly expected of the fully-human משיח (Messiah) would be God. I actually wrote quite a long answer about this and the person of Jesus being a member of the Trinity - the community of love and fellowship that is YHWH, the God of Israel, the Creator. Some of my answer here is overlap, but the vast majority of it is not. I didn’t even get into John 1 in this answer, but you can find it here: Jay Baldwin IV's answer to Can I still be a Christian if I don't believe in the Trinity?
I will also say, there are waaay more motifs than Cloud-riding, a state of eternal-being, and receiving prayer that cast Jesus so clearly in the YHWH position.
Jesus is human.
I’m going to be brief here. I think it’s rather obvious that Jesus was human.
1. He died.
2. I covered earlier how people thought he was a man, so that meant he couldn’t be God. See John 10.
3. He is the “image” in Colossians.
Genesis 1:26–27 declares God’s words regarding the creation of אדם (adam - humanity, mankind).
Then God said, “Let us make אדם (man, humans) in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
The Hebrew word behind “image” is צלם (tzelem). That’s what you are — what we (humans) are. The tzelem/image of God. The point of a human is to image God. An image of God is a human.
The Septuagint/LXX renders this εἰκόνα “eikona” - the root of our word “icon.”
Colossians 1:15 says, of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God.”
How does the Greek render this word about Jesus? Oh, eikon. He is THE image … the truly human one, like whom all other humans are supposed to be. This is why Romans 8:29 says we are to be “conformed to the image of His Son” - that is, we are to be truly human ones also, the first of which was Jesus.
4. He is the second “Adam”
I don’t do this the way most people do, citing Genesis 2 and 2 Corinthians 5:17–21, or the Genealogies rolling back to “Adam the Son of God” and Jesus being called the “Son of God,” although I agree with both those positions. My study has taken me to what I’d put under the “Motif” category.
In Genesis 1, God is there bara’-ing.
(TOTAL side-note: the Hebrew word for “created” in Genesis 1:1 is ברא - bara’, and it doesn’t mean created as in “something from nothing” … it’s used throughout the Hebrew Bible to describe what God and what sometimes others do with existing material … God forms man from the dust of the ground in Genesis, and the word “formed” about humanity is … you guess it … bara’, so it’s impossible for it to carry the “something from nothing” meaning most people try to make it. Do I think YHWH created everything from nothing? You betcha - but I think other scriptures tell us about that, not necessarily Genesis 1. I think Genesis 1 is less about the “origin story” of the world and more about the role and vocation of God, and by extension, His image with relation to the creation: to find chaos and bring order and to find emptiness and fill it with life. The world is present before God begins speaking in Genesis 1:3 (see verse 2) but it is תהו ובהו tohu vevohu - chaotic and empty. God spends 3 days ordering the tohu (chaos), and the next 3 days filling the vohu (emptiness). Day 4’s filling corresponds to Day 1’s ordering. Day 5’s to Day 2, and so forth. Then he tells us, who are to image Him and to be like Him to “fill the earth and subdue it, rule the earth.” Do you get it? Genesis 1 is mostly about WHO created and the vocation of humanity (and that it includes all humanity and not only certain humans) and less about the how.)
Anyway, in the act of creation or “forming” or “reshaping” and bringing new life, we have in Genesis 1, Elohim (God) is there, and He’s speaking, and רוח אלהים Ruach Elohim (a Spirit / Wind from God) to מרחפת merachephet (hover/fly - this word in other passages is used to describe what birds do) over/upon the lifeless waters. Then God speaks (Word of YHWH - note, in some biblical stories, the Word of YHWH has divine characteristics … like he comes to stand and has an arm … See 1 Samuel 3:1–14, the Word of YHWH is something you see / can be revealed / and is said to have been absent “from vision” but then when he comes he stands and talks) and the story unfolds, life springs up, and God’s work culminates in אדם Adam / humanity.
Take a look at Luke 1:26–37:
An angel appears to Mary. He says “the Lord is with you!” God is present, check.
The angel says she will conceive. But how? The Holy Spirit come upon you and the power of God will overshadow you. The “Ruach Elohim” is here depicted as hovering over Mary’s lifeless womb (she was a virgin, as seen in verse 34). The result? A new אדם / Adam / human / humanity.
And in case you don’t get the picture before Jesus’ birth, we go through this again at his baptism:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Okay, come on … you see it, right? It’s too good! God is present, there’s a voice / word spoken, the Spirit comes down flying / hovering like a bird over water. It’s a re-telling of Genesis 1, Jesus as a walking-talking bit of new creation!
And that leads me into the most important section, in my judgement. The WHY.
WHY is Jesus 100% God and 100% man?
Because that’s actually the point. When you read Genesis 1, humans and God live in harmony, occupying the same space. Man’s space and God’s space are one.
In Genesis 3, that’s all ripped away - Man is removed from God’s space. Earth becomes man’s space.
But there are these temples … places, like Bethel for Jacob (Genesis 28:10–22), where God’s space and man’s space seem to still overlap … where the “veil” that separates them is thin.
That’s what the gospel of John claims about Jesus. John 1 says he is the Word who was with God and the Word who is God (think 1 Samuel 3 Word of YHWH). John 1:14 says we saw God’s glory (you’re supposed to remember Exodus 34 where Moses is told he can’t see God’s glory, but God will proclaim His glory) … because He came to “tabernacle” … literally “pitch his tent” among us. Jesus is the new Temple, where God’s space (that which is divine) and man’s space (that which is human) finally … fully … overlap again.
The goal is for this to actually be what happens with all the creation.
My opinion? I think the percents throw us for a loop. We see 100% man and 100% God and think that should add up to 200% when “combined in one person,” and then we revert to “well but you can’t be better than all the way — 100% is the max.”
But I think that thought-approach is wrong. I don’t think it’s like that. I think the way to think about it is, he is 100% God, which occupies a different spacial area than the 100% man. Like you are 100% a human and also 100% either male or female. Are all males / females human? No. Can it be said that all humans are male or all humans are female? No. These states of being occupy different “space.” The point is, he can be both at the same time, because God’s structure is such that He does not have to choose between one or the other.
I think this is hinted in John 3:34: “He whom God sent utters the words of God for he has given him the Spirit without measure.” According to Genesis 1, all “spirit” which is the source of life is given from God. It’s all Ruach Elohim. The difference with Jesus being human is … for him, there is no limit.
Job 34:14–16 says “If God were to withdraw his Spirit, all life would disappear and humankind would turn again to dust.”
So think of it like this — this isn’t exactly the way I see it, but since I’m having trouble forming my thoughts with English, it’ll have to do. You and I are 100% human, but we are walking around alive because we possess, crudely, say 20% God - or some other percent of “His Spirit.” We are given His Spirit / breath … but not all of it. Having His Spirit, in part, is why we’re alive. Jesus is at 100%. He and the Father are one. The Word/Name/Wisdom/Angel of God “became flesh” (John 1:14). The infinite married the finite - two different sides of the same coin, where you and I are actually different coins with one side similar to him. Jesus is the hope that one day, we will also be imprinted with the Spirit without limit, as we become the truly human ones capable of accurately “imaging” YHWH, the Creator.